PACK RETURNS TO ACTION IN RIVALRY GAME
Two weeks since its last home game, the NC State men’s basketball team returns to PNC Arena to host long-time rival Wake Forest. The two Tobacco Road foes will tip off Saturday at noon for what will be the 243rd meeting in the all-time series. The two teams met in Winston-Salem a month ago, with Wake Forest winning 77-73.
THE STARTING 5
1. HIS NAME IS CAT BARBER
Recently named to the Naismith Trophy watch list, Cat Barber is having a season that would rank among the all-time great performances in school and ACC history. The 6-2 guard is leading the ACC in scoring with 23.5 points per game and he’s on pace to become the second player in ACC history to average 23 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.5 apg (Kenny Anderson in 1990-91). Barber has a league-best six games with 30 or more points, including four in ACC play.
His 16 games with 20 or more points is far and away the best in the ACC, as nobody else has more than 11. Additionally, he is also leading the conference in free throws made (172) and minutes per game (38.7) and is third in free throw percentage (.869) and fourth in assists (4.7).
2. RENEWING A CLASSIC RIVALRY
In its basketball history, the Pack has neither played nor beaten any team any team more than Wake Forest. Saturday’s game will be the 243rd meeting between the two schools, with NC State holding a 139-103 edge. The two rivals, located 104 miles apart, have played at least twice each year since the 1910-11 season except in 1929. In recent years, the home team has had the upper hand. NC State has won 10 straight games over Wake Forest in Raleigh dating back to February 2005.
3. PACK-WAKE: ROUND 2
Cat Barber totaled 26 points and seven assists and the Pack came back from 14 down to fall short 77-74 at Wake Forest back on Jan. 10. The game featured four ties and eight lead changes. Wake’s Devin Thomas had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. NC State trailed 73-63 with 1:53 left before making it a three-point game in the final minute. The Wolfpack shot 54 percent in the second half and Caleb Martin set a career high with 11 rebounds.
4. BATTLE OF THE BIGS
While both NC State and Wake Forest start three guards, Saturday’s game will pit two of the ACC’s better post players against each other. Wolfpack sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu (12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg) owns 11 double-doubles this season and is averaging 15.1 points per game in league play. Wake Forest will counter with senior Devin Thomas, who scores 16.2 points per game and ranks fourth in the ACC with 9.8 rebounds per game.
5. QUICK TURNAROUND
NC State won’t have much time Saturday and Sunday to think about the result vs. Wake Forest. The Pack flies to Charlottesville, Va., Sunday afternoon for an ESPN Big Monday contest at No. 7 Virginia. It’s NC State’s second two-day turnaround in league play, with the previous stretch coming at the beginning of February. Both of those two-day turnarounds featured the second game on the road.
THERE’S ONLY CAT WITH 23 - 4.5 - 4.5
Cat Barber is the only player in the nation averaging at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. In all of college basketball dating back to 1994, only four players have reached those averages in a season: LaDrell Whitehead, Wyoming (94-95), Charles Jones, Long Island (96-97, 97-98), Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Wash. (06-07), Billy Baron, Canisius (13-14).
23 PPG, 4.5 RPG AND 4.5 APG IN THE ACC
Cat Barber would be the second player in ACC history - joining Georgia Tech great Kenny Anderson - to average 23 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.5 apg in a season (assists became official stat in 1984):
Cat Barber (2015-16) 23.5 ppg 4.5 rpg 4.7 apg
Kenny Anderson (1989-90) 25.9 ppg 5.7 rpg 5.6 apg
WOLFPUPS GAINING EXPERIENCE
The experience gained this season by the young Wolfpack squad could pay dividends for the program’s future. According to the popular basketball metrics website KenPom. com, the Wolfpack stands as the 305th most-experienced team (or 46th least-experienced) in the country. The team, when minutes played are weighted by each player’s eligibility class, averages just 1.27 years of experience. The national average is 1.70 and the average experience of the 15-team ACC is 1.48.
Cat Barber now has 1,296 career points, tying him with T.J. Warren for 28th in NC State history. He needs 46 points to tie Gavin Grant for 26th on State’s all-time list. Barber is seventh among active players (and tops among non-seniors) in the ACC in career scoring. He is also now 10th in school history in career assists.
CAT AND DAVID THOMPSON
Cat Barber scored "only" 26 points at Duke last week, snapping a streak of three straight 30-point performances. It was the first such streak since David Thompson in March 1975. Thompson scored 36 in the 1974-75 season finale and then 38 in the ACC Tournament against Virginia. The next day’s ACC semifinal saw DT go for 30. His streak was broken against UNC the next day in the 1975 tournament final, which was Thompson’s last college game. Barber has dropped 40 points in four of his last six games.
CAT’S SCORING IN STATE HISTORY
Should he maintain his current 23.4 points per game mark, Cat Barber’s average would stand eighth in NC State single-season history. Additionally, Barber could become the seventh player in NC State history to lead the ACC in scoring.
IN EVERY GAME
After last week’s game, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski said Cat Barber “gives them a chance to win every game.” Despite being 2-9 in league play, the Pack has been competitive every night. NC State has four league losses by five or fewer points.
BOARDS OFF THE BENCH
Lennard Freeman owns the ACC’s top two rebounding performances off the bench this season. Freeman came off the bench at Pitt on Jan. 19 to grab 14 rebounds. He also pulled in 13 boards vs. Bucknell in December.
LENNARD’S THE MAN OF STEEL
Lennard Freeman, NC State’s leading rebounder, is rounding into form after missing several months of the offseason healing a fracture in his lower right leg. He had successful surgery in May, and now has a 14-inch rod inserted in his lower right leg to heal a fracture.
CODY IN LEAGUE PLAY
Cody Martin is shooting .574 from the floor in league play and has increased his scoring and rebounding. He has shot .500 or better in nine of the 10 conference games, including a 6-for-8 mark vs. Duke on Jan. 23. Additionally, he has made his first two career 3-pointers since ACC play began.